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Nonfiction - the "other" inspiration in my life

Happy Wednesday All! Time for another Blog Chain round. Sandra started this chain with this topic:

We all know it's important to read fiction if you want to write fiction, but what about reading non-fiction? How much non-fiction do you read? What kinds of non-fiction books do you read, and why? Has reading non-fiction influenced your fiction writing style?

As most of you know, I am actually a nonfiction writer in addition to the work I do in fiction. And yes, I read a ton of nonfiction. Most of the time the nonfiction is related to whatever nonfiction project I am working on, as I typically read the competitive titles as well as other books for research. But, I also read a ton of nonfiction as research for my fiction.

Most of the fiction-related nonfiction I read is not related to writing craft. It is usually related to the topic I am writing about. For example, when I wrote Lacrimosa I read the nonfiction news accounts of Peeter Stubbe's killing spree from the 16th century (it was featured in Lacrimosa at one point). I also read up on angel mythology and religion to contribute to my world building. For Transcend, I read nonfiction books about New York's gilded age and mental health institutions of the early 19th century.

Currently, I am working on a book related to some occult research conducted the early 20th century in Germany and Russia, so you know I will be reading some books related to that - all in the name of research.

The truth is, I am in information hound. I love learning for the sake of learning. Now that I am a writer, I get to fulfill that need more and more.

The last part of the topic asked if the nonfiction had influenced our writing style. Although I stated that I don't typically read writing craft books, I have read a couple that have profoundly changed my approach to writing:

The Artist's Way and Save the Cat.

Both of these books significantly impacted my fiction writing, helping me become a better storyteller.

What about you? Do you read nonfiction?

For more on this topic, check out Sandra's from yesterday, and Katrina's post tomorrow.


  1. I definitely read lots of books on the writing craft. Not so much nonfiction, though. Most of the nonfiction I read has to do with either developing a fictional story or stirring my creative juices to get a story started.

  2. My first choice of reading material is non-fiction. Don't tell, okay? I mean here I am writing fiction, reading fiction, commenting on fiction, but my heart belongs to non-fiction. Well-written non-fiction totally sweeps me away.

  3. I like to read only some non-fiction. Sorry, just how I am. It has to totally and completely grab me. I read to escape. Non-fiction is not always an escape for me.

  4. Ooh, I've never read The Artist's Way. I'll have to check that one out. Thanks for the recommendations. My one beef about non-fiction is that once you've read a few on a particular subject, they all begin to sound the same. Okay, two beefs. I hate it when I start a how-to book that spends the first half selling me their book/method/whatever. I already bought the book. Now I want knowledge, and it's sooo annoying whatever formula some non-fic writers are following that tells them to sell, sell, sell for the first hundred pages. Many times now when I'm reading a health, parenting, or finance book, I'm secretly head-shouting, "Get to the point already!"

  5. I always hear amazing things about Save The Cat and keep meaning to read it, but for some reason haven't yet managed to do it. I really should just buy a copy and then at least I know that I will get to it eventually.


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